Cake recipes are not hard to get. All of them seem really simple, but baking is another thing. It is tricky so most people fail during their first trials. The recipes, then, become more like science project. Well, if you are a newbie, but you want to improve your cake baking skill, here are several lessons you must learn.
COMMON MISTAKES YOU MAKE
Recipe Reading Error
Reading cake recipes is almost like a grammar test. Don’t ignore every punctuation and stop, and don’t read in glance. For example, 1 cup of chestnut, chopped has different meaning to 1 cup of chopped chestnut. The coma here gives you the order of the technique you need to apply.
Too Much Oven Checking
You can’t wait for the result so you open the oven door too many times. In other way, you are afraid that it will not work well so you keep checking the cake. Opening the oven door will release hot air inside and it changes oven temperature. It can cause uneven or undercook cake. Stop it.
You shouldn’t expect the same result if you substitute the ingredients. If your recipe tells you to use the mix of applesauce and oil butter, don’t just add the amount of the apple sauce. Like in chemistry project, each composition of the ingredient plays its own role in making the perfect cake. Just follow the recipe and don’t be a smart pant by changing the composition.
No Preheated Oven
Preheated oven is necessary to make sure that when you start baking, you are baking in the right temperature. This temperature makes sure you are baking for the right texture, color, rise, and form. Without preheated oven, a cake can be undercook, burned before it is cooked, or overcooked. 15 to 20 minutes before baking is the perfect time to preheat your oven.
Several ingredients are sticky and they are hard to clean once it touches your utensils. The solution is a thorough cleaning. Don’t leave any single mass in your utensils. Left over mess like that will affect your next baking mixture. It adds unnecessary ingredient and change the taste and texture. Make sure that your utensils are clean and pristine before you use them for measuring and adding.
If you only store your ingredients inside your fridge, make sure you let them out couple hours before you start baking. It allows them to get into room temperature which is perfect for all cake recipes. Why? Simple enough, room temperature ingredients has the best condition to be mixed and to reach the expected dough texture.
Too Hot Oven
Sometimes, the temperature asked in recipe is tricky. Your oven indicator may say the same degree but the fact is maybe not. To be safe, you should use oven thermometer to get the accurate temperature. Too hot temperature will result in uneven baking, unexpected look and texture, and even burned cake. Older oven tends to have this issue.
Use Improper Cup Measuring
You should never use liquid cup measuring to prepare dry ingredients. This will give you inaccurate measurement. Liquid cup measuring is designed to contain liquid ingredients, and prevents them from flowing, so the measurement is exact. Meanwhile, dry cup measuring is designed for dry ingredients that are easier to get the exact amount in flat surface. Never interchange the cup and don’t forget to clean them before each measurement.
Doubling the Recipe
It is common to double the recipe when you are serving for guests. You will halve the recipe when you are serving for two people only as well. Even though it is just about a math, this can be risky. The amount can be right, but the chemistry and the effect it should make during baking is often unachieved. Just bake multiple times when you need to serve for a party.
Wrong Baking Sheet
You need to use baking sheet in all cake recipes. You must know that the dark and non shiny sheets tend to absorb more heat. It can cause burned cake base. If you want it to be perfect, you should prefer to shiny and heavy aluminum sheet. It distributes the heat evenly and it results in a lot better baking.
SECRETS YOU MUST KNOW
Be Perfect Since Mixing
Like in a chemistry project, you can’t make the slightest mistake. You need the right mixture texture and temperature before you can bake it. You must follow the instructions in your cake recipes in the exact order. Don’t be hesitate to read the recipe multiple times until you get it and memorize it so following the instructions will be easier.
Know Your Oven and Cake
You need to know your oven. Does it display the accurate temperature? You need to test it using oven thermometer for use. In addition to it, don’t just guess if your cake is done. Insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake and it should come out clean. If not, your cake is still undercook.
Weigh Your Flour
Instead of merely measuring the flour using cup measurement, you should consider to weigh it. The fact is flour can get really tight in cup measurement, and it can result in even double weight than you should have. This can ruin your mixture and your cake in the end. Find conversion to provide you guide between cup and weigh.
Don’t Underestimate the Chemistry
Each ingredient plays different role. One thickens, and other creates carbon dioxide bubbles. One retards gluten formation and other firms the mixture. This shouldn’t be underestimated and replaced. Don’t act like you know it is okay and change the chemistry composition. Just follow the recipe and don’t modify it without knowledge.
Frost like a Pro
Before you start, place a little of your frosting on the center of the plate and place your cake layer on top of it. It prevents the cake from moving. Give the center of the cake your frosting then spread it. Continue with other layers. Freeze it for a while before you continue frosting the top and the sides.
Master Pan Size and Color, and Temperature
If your cake recipes tell you to use a 9 inch pan, don’t use one smaller or bigger. Get the exact size so your cake can expand in the best way. Too big pan gives you unexpected look. Darker pan absorbs more heat so you need to set the temperature around 25° lower than suggested.
Use the Right Flour
Don’t just use any flour you can find in the house. You need to specifically follow the instruction in the recipe. Different flour will give you different texture and result. On several cakes, this can be a vital key of successful or unsuccessful baking. Don’t underestimate the suggestion and follow as you are told to.
Don’t Use Too Much Fondant
It may make the trending look right now, because you can create shapes and pretty looks with it easily. The fact is fondant doesn’t taste really good, and it is considered unhealthy as well. It is okay to use it to make decoration but don’t cover your entire cake with it.
Rub Herbs and Fruit Zest in Sugar
You should do this before you finally cream the sugar in butter. Common recipe may suggest different way, but pro do it like this. It enriches your sugar taste, and the original herb and fruit zest flavor will be distributed to your whole cake by your butter.
Cool It Down
Even though your cake recipes tell you to replace the cake on a plate, you don’t necessarily have to do it immediately. Instead, you should let it cool down for a while, around 15 to 20 minutes. When you don’t find it warm as you touch it, it will be safe to replace it. It keeps the look and shape.
TIPS TO APPLY
Don’t Use Cold Ingredients
Don’t take out your ingredients from the fridge and start mixing. You need to let them out and leave it for couple of hours at most so they get into room temperature. Such ingredients give you the perfect balance, taste, and texture for your cake recipes. Prepare it hours before you start baking.
Half Filled Pan
Don’t fill the entire pan. When you cake is expanding, it needs enough room. If you fill the whole pan, it will come out of the pan and spill in your oven. Beside the dirty oven, you will not get as much cake as you expected from the recipe. Halfway fill should be the most level you do.
Space between Pans
You need to make sure that your pans don’t touch to each other. If you place them on several layers of racks, make sure that one pan is not on top of the other. This should encourage air circulation inside the oven and this is the key for even baking on all of your baking pans.
You need to place your baking pans as close as possible to the center part of the oven. It makes sure your pan gets enough heat and distributes it evenly. Such position will affect the baking result, the taste, and the look as well. Don’t let the pans touch each other while baking.
Rotate Your Pans
Rotating your pans is probably the best way to get an even baking. However, you also need to make sure you don’t open the oven door too many times. Give them the rotation when you think the particular side is done. Avoid unnecessary checking while baking the cake. It gives you best result as mentioned in your cake recipes.
Heat Oven before Baking
It is necessary to heat your oven around 10 to 15 minutes before you start baking. It allows your oven to reach the expected temperature. It also makes sure your cake is baked evenly. Don’t forget to use oven thermometer to check temperature before baking your dough. The display is often inaccurate.
No Action on Warm Cake
You should wait until your cake is cool enough before you start filling, glazing, or frosting. Warm cake will melt the ingredients and it will not stick to the cake. Room temperature cake is ready for any other additional procedures. You may need to wait for one to two hours for it. Insert your fork or toothpick in the middle of the cake. If it is warm when it comes out, you still need to wait.
Don’t Over or Under Beat Your Batter
This is one of the keys to successful mixture. Overbeat batter tends to have different texture which will, of course, result in a different texture of the cake. Underbeat batter doesn’t give enough texture. The cake tends to be undercook no matter how long you bake it. For a hint, 150 hand strokes has the same value as one minute beat using your mixer. See how your recipe tells you.
Prepare Your Pans
Don’t forget to prepare your pans before you start baking. Several recipes will require you to only grease the pan. However, if you are making cakes like butter cakes, you will also need to spread flour on the pan besides greasing it. Don’t act like you know it and neglect your recipe instruction. This will affect the baking and the final look and shape of your cake. It taste a whole lot better.
This may not be mentioned in your cake recipes, but you can’t close and open your oven door harshly no matter how hurry you are. The shake will release bubbles out from your cake and it causes undercook cake and unexpected texture and look. Do it gently when you need to open or close the oven door.
Of course, it needs experience to be able to bake a cake flawlessly. However, those lessons above are derived from professional and their endless experience. You can learn faster by avoiding what you have to, and do what you must. Don’t be afraid and keep trying more cake recipes.